Meaning in History?

Term: Spring 2012

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6664

Philosophers have reflected on history in very different ways, and the purpose of this course is to examine different approaches to the philosophy of history. We will begin with Hegel’s classic lectures on history from the 1820s, and consider this and other attempts (Kant, Marx) to find reason, meaning and direction in the historical process. We then turn to the epistemology of history in the debates about the Geisteswissenschaften in the late 19th century (Dilthey and the NeoKantians). Some of these issues reappear in the analytic philosophy of history in the 1950s and 60s (Hempel, Dray, Collingwood). Then we turn to the more recent focus on narrative (Danto, Hayden White) and memory (Paul Ricoeur). We conclude with the new emphasis on experience and “presence” (Ankersmit, Runia). While the course provides a kind of survey of the philosophy of history since Hegel, its real purpose is to evaluate systematically the philosophical project of making sense of history.

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